EMS blood collection from patients with acute chest pain reduces emergency department length of stay

Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Sep:47:248-252. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2021.04.073. Epub 2021 Apr 26.


Background: Expediting the measurement of serum troponin by leveraging EMS blood collection could reduce the diagnostic time for patients with acute chest pain and help address Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding. However, this practice has not been examined among an ED chest pain patient population in the United States.

Methods: A prospective observational cohort study of adults with non-traumatic chest pain without ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction was conducted in three EMS agencies between 12/2016-4/2018. During transport, paramedics obtained a patient blood sample that was sent directly to the hospital core lab for troponin measurement. On ED arrival HEART Pathway assessments were completed by ED providers as part of standard care. ED providers were blinded to troponin results from EMS blood samples. To evaluate the potential impact on length of stay (LOS), the time difference between EMS blood draw and first clinical ED draw was calculated. To determine the safety of using troponin measures from EMS blood samples, the diagnostic performance of the HEART Pathway for 30-day major adverse cardiac events (MACE: composite of cardiac death, myocardial infarction (MI), coronary revascularization) was determined using EMS troponin plus arrival ED troponin and EMS troponin plus a serial 3-h ED troponin.

Results: The use of EMS blood samples for troponin measures among 401 patients presenting with acute chest pain resulted in a mean potential reduction in LOS of 72.5 ± SD 35.7 min. MACE at 30 days occurred in 21.0% (84/401), with 1 cardiac death, 78 MIs, and 5 revascularizations without MI. Use of the HEART Pathway with EMS and ED arrival troponin measures yielded a NPV of 98.0% (95% CI: 89.6-100). NPV improved to 100% (95% CI: 92.9-100) when using the EMS and 3-h ED troponin measures.

Conclusions: EMS blood collection used for core lab ED troponin measures could significantly reduce ED LOS and appears safe when integrated into the HEART Pathway.

Keywords: Acute coronary syndrome; Chest pain; EMS; Prehospital; Troponin.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chest Pain / blood*
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Troponin / blood*


  • Troponin